Feb 3, 2019 The Echo of the Gospel
Once when I went for a haircut, I was quietly waiting for my turn when the youngest of three little girls, playing near their mom and dad, came over and sat down right next to me. She was followed by 5-year-old Madison. I know her name was Madison because she introduced herself to me, said she was 5, her little sister, whose name I didn’t get was 2 and what was my name?
When I told her my name was Tom she said, oh, like Thomas the Tank Engine. Knowing something of Thomas, myself, we talked about the various characters in the stories and I learned the older sister was 8. In the meantime, little 2-year-old got down to play and Madison then sat down right next to me and we talked some more. Then they all started getting called to haircuts and things quieted down. The girls were all very delightful and sweet and the parents engaging.
When it came time for them to go, they all gathered around mom and dad to leave except Madison. She came over to my seat reached up and gave me hug and said goodbye. It was just a normal thing. For her when you make a new friend and its time to go, you give them a hug and say goodbye before you leave. It was just the most easy and natural thing for her, and a delightful surprise for me.
I tell you this story because, it meant something to me, and I wanted you to hear it. I’m doing for you with this story what happened in the gospel lesson today with Jesus. I’m echoing back to you what has happened to me.
An echo is a natural thing. Like for Madison, when the conditions are right, she gives you a hug to say goodbye; and when the right conditions exist in the landscape or certain buildings, an echo results. Given the proper surroundings, an echo will happen naturally. It’s also a natural condition for a Christian. A Christian “echo’s” the news about Jesus Christ.
Look at the gospel lesson please. Notice that from verses 31-36 there’s an account of Jesus teaching, apparently in the synagogue since that’s where He also healed a man possessed by a demon. Then we come to verse 37. Please read that verse with me. And the news about Him spread throughout the surrounding area.
The news about Him spread… we get our English word echo from the Greek word behind that phrase. So, what this tells us is, that like me telling you about Madison, what Jesus did was told over and over or echoed around that region.
As a result of that echo more and more people came to Him to be healed. Even the demons, whom Jesus forced out of people, were echoing the truth about who Jesus is – the holy one of God. Again, our word echo comes from the Greek in verse 37 where it says the news about Him spread. When you look at the next verses, especially verse 42 you see that people came to him as a result of what they’d heard. And what they heard was an echo, not a rumor. An echo repeats faithfully what starts it. Like this, repeat after me – Jesus is Lord. That’s an echo.
The point is faithful repetition gets the message across. That’s what we’re about; we’re about echoing the news of who Jesus is, faithfully. Just like the prophet in the Old Testament lesson today. We’re to tell others what God has told us.
God said to Jeremiah in the second half of verse 7 today You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Jeremiah was to say what God gave him to say. He wasn’t to make something up on his own. He was to faithfully repeat to others what God gave him to say.
We can’t be like the prophet if we shut our ears to what God speaks to us. We listen to God as the prophets did, and that means hearing and taking in His Holy Word of scripture. The message we’re given to echo comes from the written word of God.
Remember these prophets didn’t just wait around sitting on their hands! They’re not simple one-dimensional characters, they’re people just like you and me. And like you and I they trusted and hoped in the promise of God’s word to them. They were people who listened to God and then told others what He gave them to tell. We actually have it easier than they did.
We have God’s word before us, if we want, every day; no waiting! It’s been gifted to us through holy scripture, so that we can listen to it, and as Luther has said ‘study it and inwardly digest it’. We can hold it in our hands, as well as in our hearts. We can do this by studying it carefully. If we’re not reading the bible, how can we hear God’s word to us to echo to others?
God’s word gives us the source of what we echo. Remember an echo doesn’t produce itself. An echo can only repeat exactly what the initial sound gives it. An echo is faithful in every detail to the original.
Now back in the gospel lesson today we see a good example of an echo. Jesus in verse 43 says ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also because that is why I was sent.’ He was echoing the word of God. Jesus echoed His Father’s word just as He echoed His Father’s will.
It was the will of the Father that Jesus be obedient to what He was sent to do. And St Paul tells us that Jesus was obedient even to death, death on a cross. Jesus’ obedience to His Father’s will, leading to His death on a cross, is what brought about the fulfillment of redemption that was the promise that God had echoed down the ages through His prophets. And in Jesus’ crucifixion, that promise was fulfilled; as was the promise of life again that was made known in Jesus rising from the dead. He is the first-born from the dead scripture tells us. This is the news we have to echo to the world around us. We have this good news of the kingdom of God, granted to us by grace, that Jesus preached that is ours to echo.
We’re to seek to give that message out, not keep it in. We’re not to be jealously keeping this to ourselves. An echo seeks to go out from its source. Yes, it bounces back, but when it does return back to its source, it’s not any different due to its journey. It comes back unchanged.
An echo must have a source, not of its own making. For us to be echoes of Christ we are, as we said, often in His word, on a regular basis. After all an echo must be renewed otherwise it can fade away. Again, we are regularly in God’s word so that the source of what we echo remains both fresh and true to that source.
I started out today by telling you my story about Madison, let me give another story to illustrate how important it is to echo good news.
A commuter on a suburban railroad was known to every regular rider on the 5:15 local. He was a well-dressed, quiet young man. As the train pulled out of the station, he would go to the front of the car in which he was riding and walk down the aisle, speaking to each seat load of passengers as he went. “Excuse me, but if any of your family or friends are blind or threatened with blindness, tell them to consult Dr. Carl. He restored my sight.” It was a courteous, confident, and courageous testimony, repeated faithfully. The man had good news and he echoed it over and over.
Before I close, he reminds me of Peter and John in the book of Acts when they were brought before the rulers, scribes and elders in Jerusalem for preaching and healing in Jesus name. In chapter 4 it says in part,
13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus… 18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”
It was the good news of Jesus Christ that Peter and John were echoing. And that echo was disturbing. It should be disturbing, even today to those around us. What the name of Jesus brings is an affront to what Satan began in the Garden with his temptation. And people don’t want to hear the echo of Christ’s call to repentance. People want to be left alone in their sin and rebellion.
That’s why echoing the word of Jesus is disturbing. The sound of salvation that’s found in Jesus name is also the sound of the death of sin and sin doesn’t die easily. In fact, sin had to be nailed down in order to die.
Jesus took our sin onto Himself and nailed it to the cross in His body for the salvation of the world, after which He rose victorious. We echo the news of His victory when we, like Peter and John speak of Jesus and the good news of God’s kingdom. We echo the words of hope and life, which God has given us through His Living word, Jesus Christ, our redeemer and the Savior of the world! In whose name we pray, amen.
[Sermon #1001 Rev. Thomas A. Rhodes, Pastor – Zion Lutheran Church, Bolivar, MO]
First Reading Jeremiah 1:4-10
4 The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
6 “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
7 But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.
8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
9 Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth.
10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”
Epistle Reading 1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:13
31…And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Holy Gospel Luke 4:31-44
31 Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. 32 They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority.
33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
35 “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.
36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.
38 Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. 39 So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.
40 At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. 41 Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.
42 At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. 43 But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” 44 And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.